How to rehab your cold-damaged plants

Gardener recommends slow & steady approach, as well as avoiding 1 common mistake

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – After several days of freezing temperatures, local farmers and gardeners alike are assessing the damage to the crops and plants.

Temperatures in the 20s for several days and frost are causing problems across the area. In many cases, however, there are ways to rehabilitate your plants.

As thermometers slowly rise, many Floridians are going into their yards to notice their beloved bushes, shrubs and trees are brown, wilted and dry.

That’s bad news.

The good news is experts say there is some good news because most of the cold-damaged plants will return to their green glory.

“We did incur a little bit of damage,” said Brandon Voutour, a manager at Liberty Landscape Supply at Trad’s in San Jose. “Florida hasn’t seen temps like this in years.”

Even with proper preparations, he said some plants felt the wrath of the cold.

Voutour and the team at this nursery are working to bring the trees, shrubs and bushes back to life — and so can you.

“I recommend you water everything,” he said. “Water will help keep alive and revive what’s left of the plant.”

Don’t forget to keep watering even if you think the plants are dead. And while you may think that removing the dead leaves and branches will help, gardeners say it actually does the opposite.

“If you take it and leave it and clean it up in spring when all threats of frost damage is done, then you’ll have a better chance of the plant reviving itself and regenerating,” Voutour noted.

January, February and even March could bring more freezing temperatures and damaging frost.

Most perennials will come back. So should your grass and some tropicals could even recover but patience is key.

“A lot of people don’t like it but you have to just let it be,” Voutour said.

For future freezes, Voutour says, cover your vulnerable plants with a sheet or towel and not plastic.

RELATED: How to protect your plants from freeze

And if you’re starting from scratch, consider getting plants that are a little heartier in the cold. For example, if you live in Jacksonville, look for something that’ll do well as far north as Atlanta.

The greenhouse at Trad’s is actually about 20 degrees warmer here than it is on the outside. So the plants that got in there didn’t freeze and they’re going to be just fine. But most of us don’t have a greenhouse at our homes, but we may have plants in pots. So you can bring them into the garage or put them in your house at least for a couple of days until the worst of the cold spell is over.

About the Author:

Lifetime Jacksonville resident anchors the 8 and 9 a.m. weekday newscasts and is part of the News4Jax I-Team.